The Government of Canada has joined Lake Babine Nation and the Government of British Columbia in collaboratively working toward a long-term reconciliation agreement.
The agreement would implement Lake Babine Nation’s title and rights, and support economic and community benefits for the people of Lake Babine Nation and the surrounding region.
Gordon Alec, Chief of Lake Babine Nation, Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and Scott Fraser, B.C.’s Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, have signed the Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding to Guide Rights Implementation and Reconciliation Negotiations.
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) brings the federal government into advanced discussions between the Province and Lake Babine Nation. It frames negotiations for a long-term agreement to progressively implement Lake Babine Nation’s inherent title and rights, including the inherent right of self-government, as well as promote social and community well-being and regional economic growth.
That long-term agreement — called the Foundation Agreement — would start transforming the Crown-Lake Babine relationship by setting out goals the parties would implement as they are completed, over a period of up to 25 years.
Key topic areas under negotiation are lands, land and natural resource decision-making, forestry, Lake Babine governance, child and family well-being, education and language, and justice.
Lake Babine and the provincial and federal governments have expressed a shared interest in working together, building strong and resilient government-to-government relationships, and ensuring their work aligns with the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and case law, including the Tsilhqot’in Aboriginal title decision.
Gordon Alec, Chief of Lake Babine Nation –
“This negotiation is about how to implement Lake Babine’s inherent rights in true partnership with the Crown. My Nation is pleased to finally be negotiating towards an agreement with both B.C. and Canada that would honour our rights and title, help us heal from the legacies of colonialism and allow us to take a leadership role in growing the regional economy. This work is urgent and of the highest priority for Lake Babine.”
Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations –
“First Nations have been clear — they want transformative change now. Together with Lake Babine, we are charting an innovative path forward that supports their community’s vision of greater self-determination and a sustainable, self-reliant community by enabling the implementation of self-government agreements as they are reached.”
Scott Fraser, B.C.’s Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –
“The Government of Canada is an essential partner in our ongoing collaboration with Lake Babine Nation to reconcile title and rights, advance self-government and support economic prosperity for the people of Lake Babine. With Lake Babine and all Indigenous nations throughout B.C., the Province is taking a different, partnership-based approach to how we design reconciliation agreements and treaties — an approach grounded in the recognition that there are many pathways to reconciliation that support self-determination and inherent rights.”
- In 2016, Lake Babine Nation and the Province agreed to a new approach to reconciliation based on a shared vision of full partnership and joint accountability.
- The shared vision is to progressively implement Lake Babine’s Aboriginal rights and title, promote social and community well-being, support regional economic growth and develop a strong government-to-government relationship.
- In March 2017, B.C. and Lake Babine signed the interim Foundation Pathway Agreement that established the topics and steps to negotiate an agreement.
- The tripartite MOU joins Canada to those ongoing negotiations.
- Lake Babine Nation is the third largest First Nation in British Columbia, with a total registered membership of approximately 2,440. The Nation’s main administrative office is located in Burns Lake, approximately 230 kilometres west of Prince George, and includes communities of Fort Babine, Old Fort, Tachet, Donald’s Landing/Pinkut.
Lake Babine tripartite MOU and other agreements with B.C.: http://ow.ly/LwSN309WgcN
Lake Babine Nation: www.lakebabine.com